Educators in Maryland Need to Take Responsibility for Poor Test Scores and Fix the Problem!
Jan Greenhawk, Editor/Writer for Radio Free Oxford
A few years ago, the Baltimore Ravens were having a terrible season. They were losing game after game. The reason was they had so many injuries to key players that the team they put on the field was so much weaker than they should have been.
And no one cared about why. Despite all of their circumstances and injuries, the fans wanted winning and they, and the owner, got tired of hearing the head coach explain why the team wasn’t winning. “No excuses,” they said, “You’re a professional football team. Fix the problem and win!”
It’s a shame educators didn’t get that message.
With the release of the awful Maryland State test scores this week, this is the refrain from educators across the state. From the State Superintendent:
“There is the gloom story of math, but there are so many kids who are close to hit that proficiency bar, too,” said Choudhury. “They’re on the cusp of it.”
While some members of the board might read the highlights and conclude ‘Our schools are failing’ — it’s not as gloomy as you think it is,” said Choudhury.
It’s nice that he can turn horribly bitter lemons into lemonade. No one in the state outside the unions and his staff are buying that line of cow flop. The scores are bad, our kids are in trouble. The Titanic is sinking and having the orchestra keep playing isn’t helping that fact. It’s not a serious approach to a serious problem. Here are the scores:
An even worse response is one I saw on Facebook from a teacher. Having been a teacher and even a testing coordinator for my county, I know how devastating it can be when bad scores are published. The public rightly criticizes those on the front lines first, and that includes teachers and school staff. However, the knee jerk defensive responses make the situation worse. Here are two of the paraphrased comments from the teacher:
Stop blaming teachers. We are working so hard and no one appreciates how hard we work. It’s not our fault.
Teachers have an impossible job and we don’t get paid enough.
The first argument is the same comment every time things go bad in the schools. Even when people are clearly talking about the educational system, teachers complain about being blamed. The “don’t blame us, we just work here” response is what the teachers’ union have taught teachers, thinking that it will shut everyone up. If you keep playing the pity angle, it seems to work. What they may not realize is, by saying this, teachers are in fact implying they aren’t very important in the education equation. They are shooting themselves in the foot.
The bottom line is that people know it is the system that is not working and teachers should not shoulder the brunt of the finger pointing. But teachers don’t get a pass either. It’s true that they are the front line and not the policy makers, but they ARE the majority of employees and can affect change if they truly want to. A teacher in the classroom has a great deal of power to educate his/her students. Yes, the district provides the curriculum and materials, but once that classroom door closes, a teacher has sole impact on what goes on there, especially once the teacher achieves tenure. Of course, supervisory staff and administration will occasionally stop in to see what is happening, but that is it.
This may be both a blessing and curse to the teacher and the public, because as we have seen, some teachers take this autonomy and foist personal political beliefs and inappropriate ideologies on innocent students. But if we are talking strictly about teaching academic content in schools, teachers matter most: From the Rand Corporation:
Teachers matter more to student achievement than any other aspect of schooling. Many factors contribute to a student’s academic performance, including individual characteristics and family and neighborhood experiences. But research suggests that, among school-related factors, teachers matter most. When it comes to student performance on reading and math tests, teachers are estimated to have two to three times the effect of any other school factor, including services, facilities, and even leadership. Teachers Matter | RAND
Teachers could help their public image by not supporting a union that only spends ten cents per dollar on representing them and that promotes outlandish ideas while constantly begging for more money and lobbying for power. This is while they sit on hundreds of millions of assets. One look at the MSEA and NEA websites and you will find page after page of statements about transgender rights, political lobbying etc. and almost nothing about supporting actual normal, everyday teachers and better working conditions. If the hundreds of millions of union assets were spent on actually helping teachers and schools instead of paying staff and lobbyists, imagine what positive change could happen. If the unions even pretended to care about students, it might be better. They gave that sham up decades ago.
Teachers also need to take a hard look at colleagues. Anyone who has ever taught will tell you that there are people in the profession who work very hard and are great at their jobs. But there are also teachers who have depended on tenure to protect their jobs while they don’t actually do their jobs. Other teachers know this, will privately acknowledge it, but will actually “circle the wagons” when administrators try to get rid of bad teachers. The rotten apples destroy the image of ALL teachers and drag down student achievement.
As for the difficulty of the job, this is another refrain educators need to stop singing. I taught for thirty years. Yes, it’s a difficult job. Difficult. Not impossible. In fact, when you compare hours, days working, etc. teaching is no more difficult than most other professions. The comments about taking work home at night are true for some, but again, ask those in other salaried professions how much work they do after hours. It’s comparable if not more. Like any other job, the difficulty of the job is directly related to WHERE and WITH WHOM one works and how efficiently you use your time during the day.
The bottom line is being an educator is a choice. If one was unaware of the challenges of the job, shame on them. No one is forcing people to go into teaching. I applaud all of those who go into teaching with the purest of motives. I also suggest that those who find the job impossible either change their approach to the job or leave.
Having said that, I am sadly aware that we are losing teachers each year. Many districts are still not fully staffed after the pandemic. Blaming the pay as the main reason is the wrong approach. Pay has always been an issue with teachers. But that is the case in almost all jobs right now. Inflation is devastating and pay raises for almost everyone are not keeping up. In fact, in Maryland, many counties are giving teachers pay raises well above what other public service professions are getting.
Teachers’ main complaint is that they can’t do what they were trained and want to do, teach their students. Poor student behavior, multiple distractions in the classroom, focusing on social programs instead of academics, interruptions of class time for various feel-good activities, all stand in the way of teachers being able to do what they got into teaching for. And so they leave. No one likes a job where you can not accomplish your main goal. In education the main goal is teaching children the skills they need to be successful and productive adults.
If left up to teachers, the test scores probably would be much better than they are. Instead of being told to teach curriculums that don’t work with materials that are inadequate or even detrimental to learning, teachers would choose materials that would actually help students learn. But systems usually contract with publishers on the basis of what administrators choose. In some cases, administrators make money off these choices in the form of kickbacks or promises of well-paying consultant jobs.
If teachers could focus on the basics, get disruptive students out of the classroom, remove the constant interruptions for silly, feel-good programs that help no one, the academics would improve. But no one wants to discuss that. They would rather throw money at unproven, wasteful initiatives.
If kids truly felt safe at school instead of worrying about some out-of-control student slamming them against the wall or attacking them, they would do better academically. But we keep sacrificing the many for a few habitual miscreants. And those students are ALL different races and genders.
If teachers would stand up without the unions and tell the federal, state and local administrations that they have real solutions to the poor test scores and that these solutions focus on academics, the public would get behind them 100% and support them.
But, instead of doing that and saying, “These scores are awful! I want to make them better and will do whatever I can to make that happen, ” teachers are playing the victim role in public like they have for decades. It’s getting them and our students nowhere.
It’s time for them to change their approach. They need to see what is and stop blaming everyone and everything else. You can’t see the real problem unless you take a hard look at yourselves.
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” – Matthew 7:3-5
And I would add to this, “and solve the problem.”
Jan can be reached at email@example.com
Jan is a retired teacher and a current Chapter Chair for Moms for Liberty, Talbot
Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Destroys Local Budgets and Squeezes Out Local Programs Best for Students
by Jan Greenhawk, Writer/Editor for Radio Free Oxford
It’s been on the horizon for quite a while. Like a nuclear bomb set to destroy local budgets and local control of education, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future will explode this year and negate local governance by counties and local school boards.
The Blueprint isn’t anything new. It was created in 2016 under the name “Kirwan Legislation.” A group of appointed education “gurus” and bureaucratic “experts” got together to create a top-down program that they insisted would make our schools better. They studied educated systems in Finland, Shanghai, Singapore and Ontario, Canada. They also studied schools in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New Hampshire. Is there anything that strikes you as unique about those systems?
None of those systems are at all like any school system in Maryland. Three of the systems come from countries where both population, values, and structure of schools and government are completely different from Maryland’s.
And then Singapore: 8 Facts about Education in Singapore – The Borgen Project The thing that struck me about their schools is that parents must pay for schooling, if even a small fee. Their school days are longer and teachers are expected to work much longer for much less pay. Again, can’t imagine much of that working here in the United States. The Unions don’t like the current workload of teachers as it is.
As for those other states/countries, the demographics and philosophies are so different from Maryland it’s almost laughable. In Finland, they don’t even allow children to go to school until they’re seven.
But, that doesn’t matter to the “experts” who created this boondoggle. They wanted something to make a big splash on the education scene, something that would show everyone how much they cared about student achievement. And, of course, something that will cost a fortune. From my time in education, I learned that when you can’t find a real solution to a problem, throw more money at it.
If it was just the money we were talking about with the Blueprint, that would be one thing. The problem is that this initiative creates a Soviet style administrative structure that rivals anything the USSR ever knew. I wrote about this in February of 2022: (portions in italics are from the February blog. The link is at the end of this blog post.)
Yesterday, I discovered there is now something in Maryland called” The Blueprint.” For those of you who were busy trying not to go broke or crazy in the past two years, the “Blueprint” is actually “The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future,” a sweeping education reform bill that will spend BILLIONS, add all kinds of programs to local school districts, make the Unions richer than ever, and cause the hearts of every Superintendent to beat with happy anticipation. It is the cash cow of cash cows. Imagine that every child in the system is now a great big old ATM. Each one of them will be worth so much money! Government got a taste of it with the Covid relief money, but this is something WAY better!
This Blueprint is a direct descendent of something we have had in Maryland since in the 90’s. In 2002 it was called the “Bridge to Excellence Act” and its goal was to “update” the school funding formula in Maryland using the “expertise” of state commissions. It had the word “excellence” in it and the state was going to throw tons of money at the schools, especially those in the politically powerful Montgomery, Howard, and Baltimore counties as well as those districts that could gain the state street cred, namely Baltimore City and Prince George’s County. And it worked so well. Not really. In fact, despite all the funding formulas, special commissions, etc. the schools didn’t inch one tiny bit upward toward mediocrity much less excellence. In fact, test scores, teacher competence, and school climate declined.
Surprising because there were SO many experts on what was eventually called the “Kirwan Commission” who guided this mess. Apparently, being an expert doesn’t make you effective at positive change.
However, in 2017, resuscitation was attempted and this commission did studies of “top performing” educational systems across the world in order to find what works. Guess what they figured out? We needed to adopt reforms that are comparable to the ones done in Finland, Singapore, Canada and, wait for it, China.
One important reform suggested was “institute a governance system that has the authority and legitimacy to develop coherent, powerful policies and is capable of implementing them at scale.” ( my bold for emphasis)
Let me translate that into real English: “Create a bunch of bureaucrats who will be able to coerce and force local elected Boards to do exactly what we say without question and make sure they all do what we want in lock step or suffer the economic consequences.”
Hence The Blueprint” and its wonderful new Cosa Nostra, the all-knowing, the all-powerful “Accountability and Implementation Board” will make sure all the local yahoos do what the state, not the people, want.
Here’s a description, taken from a local county’s website:
Notice some things? The board is in place from 7/1/2020 to June 30, 2032. Wow. Twelve years that this board will be “in place.” That’s a lot of strong arming.
See their job? Hold State and local governments, including local and state school boards, accountable for implementing THE Blueprint. Not for doing what is best for their communities, not for being good custodians of the people’s taxes, but just implementing The Blueprint. That’s it. And guess what? If the local, elected school board (or other elected board) goes against the progrom of The Blueprint, the AIB will have jurisdiction. That’s right. They will OVERRULE your local, elected board. Basically, you. Your votes for those positions will be meaningless.
And just in case you think you can “trust” the people who have been currently appointed (not elected) to this board, none of them are from the Eastern Shore or Western Maryland. None of them represent parents or teachers.
Ultimately, why are they necessary? What is in The Blueprint that is so obnoxious that it has to be protected for 12 years by an oversight committee?
I do know one thing. The Board is appointed by the Governor and the Board has power over EVERYTHING, school boards, county councils, even the State Board of Education.
What is THE Blueprint?
Funny thing about Progressives, whenever they name a program, they do a great job of making it sound so positive while it is going to do things that are so negative. “The Blueprint,” which is supposed to rebuild Maryland’s education system, is going to do exactly the opposite. And it’s going to cost BILLIONS over the next twelve years.
But, let’s be fair and take a good look at this program that is so wonderful local agencies have to be threatened into compliance. There are five focus areas:
Early Childhood Education: Just so you know, these bureaucrats want your children as soon as they can get them. If they could stand in the delivery room and catch the babies as they spurted out of their mothers, they would. But they have to start one step at a time.
This headlong sprint to “full day, free to all low income 3–4-year-olds pre-k” is described as a way to get all children “ready to learn” for kindergarten. It will be the government delivered “Head Start” program which was an utter failure. It will start out as “recommended.” It will end up as mandatory. Because they can’t get all that educational mediocrity done in just twelve short years with your child. They need more time.
Recent points: Not only is this a rush to do what the new Governor, Wes Moore, stated he wanted to do which is have our children from birth to workforce, it is also an incorrect assumption that counties have the capacity to implement the requirements of this pillar. First, there must be compliant building capacity for all of these children and there isn’t in many areas. Second, there must be trained teachers and staff at an acceptable teacher student to pupil ratio. As Delegate Jeff Ghrist puts it, “what are we going to do when all 24 jurisdictions want to hire people from a barely existent pool of candidates? (paraphrase). Finally, how will the systems be able to pay these people the wage they will want for this job?
Elevating Teachers and School Leaders: As we are in the middle of a teacher shortage, this initiative is going to make teachers, potential teachers and school leaders “meet much more rigorous standards.” As stated in the Blueprint, Teacher evaluation and promotion will be in the form of teaching portfolios which will be presented to third party regulatory bodies. These portfolios will be judged arbitrarily by standards created by boards, boards who have their own ideologies and will never have met or seen the teacher teach.
This means higher pay for teachers (the unions LOVE that; more money means higher dues) and mandates that local counties have “local career ladders.” In other words, the state will determine how teacher pay raises will be given and how teachers will achieve higher level jobs. All this while working toward a cap on teacher classroom time to 60%. This means only 60% of a teacher’s workday will be actually doing their job, teaching in a classroom. Supposedly, this extra time out of the classroom will be spent learning new and better ways to teach. Sure. If you say so. From experience I know that there will be so much paperwork associated with their jobs that teachers will spend this time doing record keeping.
And, if you are fearful that the rigorous standards for training teachers will be too hard to reach, don’t worry, they will focus on “specified components of instruction, including basic research skills, differentiation of instruction, cultural competency, restorative practices and effective classroom management.” How about actual content knowledge? I guess it’s no longer important that teachers actually can read, write, know science and history and do math. Anyway, the big dogs in this pile are cultural competency and restorative practices. Look them up to find out what they mean.
Update: The Blueprint will demand that ALL first-year teachers will make $60000 a year by the 2027. That’s four years from now. Sounds okay until you realize that when salaries at the bottom of the pay scale go up, they have to go up by the same amount all the way up the ladder. And all ancillary pay such as extra duty, workshop pay, etc. will have to go up as well. Of course, retirement will go up, promising a great big surprise to the counties when all these teachers leave the profession. Not only that, but when one profession gets a pay raise well above the inflation rate, a pay raise other workers are not getting, there will be animosity towards teachers.
CREATING A WORLD CLASS INSTRUCTIONAL SYSTEM: It’s not February 2nd so I know it’s not Groundhog Day but, like the movie of the same name, this objective makes me think we are reliving the same decades over and over. I believe I first heard this phrase around 1980. Still hasn’t happened. In fact, much of what is in this Blueprint is just repeats of old plans resurrected.
There is so much built into this one that it would be hard to summarize but I’ll give it a go. They want to create a curriculum that is INTERNATIONALLY benchmarked so ALL students will achieve “college and career readiness” by the end of 10th grade. So, when a child is 16, he/she/they/them/those/ will be ready to go to college or to take up a career. And who will determine the courses they will take for this? You guessed it, the AIB.
Update: Never fear, the community colleges are there to save the day. While dual enrollment in local community colleges has been an option for Junior and Seniors for a while, it will now be offered to any high school student. And best part of all, it will be FREE to the student. Tuition, books, transportation, fees, etc. will be paid by the school district and local taxpayers.
As for career counseling, this will have to be done by an entity called the local workforce development board. Large counties have boards with many staff members. In a small county like ours, there are four on the board. Four to service all 4,000 plus children in the county to the tune of approximately $250,000 in the budget (that’s approximately $62.00 per student). If you think these four have the training, time and capacity to handle this with all of our students, I have a bridge in New York City to sell you.
Standards and Equity(This name has since been changed to “More Resources to ensure that all students are successful): Here’s where the rubber, and the money, hits the road. In this part of the plan, more money is given to poorer schools. Those schools are determined by the percentage of students whose families are at the poverty level. This designation is always changing. And, while this has always been the case that schools with more “free lunch” or Title 1 students have always gotten more money, this time the more is way more. In other words, some kids are worth more in funding than others.
In this model, services are designated for all members of a child’s “family” in certain schools. Health, dental, mental health, adult classes in academics, work force skills, etc. Kids will get extended school year, weekend school, vision services, and the very popular “social, emotional, psychological and behavioral services,”
Update: This is the “Community School” concept. Again, staffing and facility space becomes an issue. Where will all these extra employees come from since most employers, especially school systems, are struggling to find people who want to work? Also, is this what schools are for? Where does academics fit? In a small, rural county, how does the system provide these services.
The cost for all of this will be an amount we have never seen before. And if a county can’t afford all this? Well, they had better raise their taxes or bear the wrath of the Accountability and Implementation Board.
Governance and Administration: So, we come full circle to that Accountability and Implementation Board. Every school system will be REQUIRED by the “Super Board” to do the following to implement this plan:
Adapt all the required curriculum, instruction and organization of the school day for this plan.
Close all achievement gaps regardless of race, gender, disability, household income, etc. Basically, every child MUST achieve at the exact same level. No highs, no lows, etc. With highs and lows, you have gaps. They are making progress with this since ALL of our children are doing much worse academically, with only 30% achieving proficient in math, reading and science according to recent test scores, a huge drop. No gaps, just low achievement for everyone! See the attached PDF of the most recent Maryland test scores.
Present an approved plan to the AIB or have 25% of your system’s state funding withheld. In 2 years, there can be more of a percentage withheld. Where will that 25% go? In a savings account? To the Unions? If the AIB decides, arbitrarily, that a certain district doesn’t meet the requirements and deadline for planning the AIB can take away all their money. No problem with bribes there. By the way, the prediction is that this plan will increase local funding for schools 24% by 2030.That’s 6% a year, without factoring in inflation. It will amount to millions. State funding will increase to $3.1 BILLION by FY2030 an increase of over $400 million. Hold on to your inflation depleted pocketbooks folks! Higher taxes for property owners and income earners are coming! Update: This year, our county will face an 8 million dollar increase to the education budget. Since we are considered a “wealthy” county, seventy-two percent of this increase will be paid by the locals. And that is JUST to fund the mandates of the Blueprint. People ask me why the county doesn’t just refuse this. They can’t. If they do, the state will hold all county revenues from taxes hostage.
Provide all the personnel to do all the extra things required in the plan as well as to become “review teams” in the county to do interviews, surveys, etc. to decide why students aren’t achieving. More positions, more people, more money. Government grows again!
Update: Many local Superintendents, county councils/commissioners, School Boards and state politicians are very concerned about this legislation.
One of the biggest concerns is that the Blueprint will force a “one size fits all” mandated program on every county. One local school board member commented that with this budget, our county will have nothing left to fund the local initiatives that are unique to our area and successful with our children. What may work in Baltimore City, Montgomery County or Prince Georges County will not work in the rural counties of the Eastern Shore. And, remember, the Eastern Shore has NO representation of the AIB board, even after it was expanded. The Blueprint is a huge middle finger to the students here; a very expensive, budget busting finger.
While some local programs are supported by grants and donations, philanthropic groups will not have the capacity to cover everything that the schools formerly had in their budgets. And, even if they did, will there be time in the school day to conduct these initiatives AND teach academics.
Not only will unique school initiatives be eliminated, but programs in the Blueprint that may be geared toward special populations in Central Maryland will be added at great expense and no positive impact on Eastern Shore students. It’s something public education is very good at, creating and mandating a program for a problem that doesn’t exist. Then, when the solution doesn’t work, they will ask for more money for it so they can beef up the unsuccessful practices more.
The money spent on those programs will also force county leaders to eliminate or shortchange programs outside of education. Law enforcement, county maintenance, economic development, etc. will have their budgets slashed to make room for Blueprint money. When a county has to decide between basic services or education mandates knowing that the mandates MUST be implemented or they lose their funds, basic services will go by the wayside.
Let’s not forget the local taxpayer. In our county, voters elected to maintain a specific property tax rate. This was to keep people here in their homes instead of moving out, particularly young families. Estimates done on the Blueprint BEFORE inflation show property taxes increasing even after the county put in an amount directed towards education.
It is important to note that these figures are PRE inflation. Inflation was at around 2.5% when they were determined. Now it’s over 8%.
The state will argue that our county is a “wealthy” county. What they don’t understand is that although our collective wealth is high, it is concentrated within a very small, elderly population who often live here part time, don’t pay income taxes, and have accountants who help them avoid property taxes.
The rest of us are middle class and lower; people who will not be able to afford the increased taxes and property assessments the state and county will force on us to pay this bill. And that is an assumption that top-down governments often make about the populations they don’t cater to or understand. Our population won’t win them elections.
Our new Governor, Wes Moore obviously understands that fact since he did not carry the Eastern Shore in the 2022 election. In his haste to provide many new initiatives in Maryland, none of them benefit our part of the state.
I said at the beginning that the Blueprint was incorrectly modeled after education programs in Communist China. On second thought, I might be wrong. I think the top down, one party control of the Chinese system is exactly what the Blueprint is about.
And our kids will suffer because one size fits all top-down mandates don’t work. They never have.
The World Economic Forum, SEL, Transhumanism, Collectivism, and Death of Spirituality
Why Progressives Have Abandoned Academics as Crucial to Student Success.
by Jan Greenhawk, Editor/Author, Radio Free Oxford
I remember the first time our education system abandoned academics. We were sitting around a big table in the Board Office. There were supervisors, principals, and the Superintendent. There were several subjects on the chopping block: cursive handwriting, teaching multiplication tables, and teaching grammar. One at a time, each of these disciplines was dismissed as “too hard, too restrictive, or irrelevant” by a central office staffer. After all, students had computers with spell and grammar check to type work on and calculators to do math for them. Why put kids through all the stress of actually learning these things? It was around the year 1999. It was the beginning of a long line of academic content being removed from school curricula. Soon history, classic literature, vocabulary and spelling followed.
This time once devoted to content was filled with other activities like class meetings, sharing circles, whole class counseling sessions, and other early forms of something now called SEL.
Fast forward to today.
A recent story out of Virginia along with educators downplaying plummeting national standardized test scores are indicators of something strange going on in our public schools.
It seems schools no longer care about academics and individual student achievement.
In Virginia, parents were shocked to learn that seven public schools in the Loudon County School District failed to tell students about their eligibility for millions of dollars of scholarship awards for achievement on the Preliminary SAT tests. The tests are mainly given to tenth and eleventh grade students each year and those who score in the top nationally are called National Merit Scholars and can get college scholarships.
But, in Loudon County officials decided that announcing the names of these scholars and allowing them to claim their scholarship money would hurt the feelings of other students. So, they didn’t let anyone know, even the students who earned the distinction. (1)
In the progressive war of valuing achievement or collective feelings, feelings won.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone since it seems that Progressives have decided that test scores and other objective data regarding the learning of our students are NOT important in determining the success of our children.
They have a different yardstick to measure with, and that yardstick is called “Social Emotional Learning” or “SEL.”
Social Emotional Learning is just one of educational initiatives created and promoted by globalists that will assure that humans will have just enough skills and knowledge to keep them on the electronic grid and government dole. Created by a long line of psychologists beginning in the 1950’s, SEL began as a way to help students who had suffered emotional trauma do better in school. Since then, it has morphed into something that must be implemented with all students, whether they need it or not. It has also become the basic foundation for divisive mantras contained in Critical Race Theory and Gender Ideology. Here is a definition of SEL from CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning) a group associated with the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation and Chan Zuckerburg Foundation and other Progressive groups.
It doesn’t look too bad to many. After all, shouldn’t we address the emotional needs of children? If it was just a matter of making sure kids feel comfortable and confident, the answer would be yes. But every day we see different stories and videos showing how schools are using SEL to teach our children to be activists instead of scholars, practice racial animosity and division instead of acceptance, believe in group think instead of individuality, accept mental illness as the norm versus the exception, and support gender confusion instead of clarity. It’s a huge trash pile of bad ideas and corruption.
In March 2019, the Boston-based Pioneer Institute published the study, “Social-Emotional Learning: K-12 Education as New-Age Nanny State,” asserting that SEL had become the latest panacea in a long line of progressive “education reforms” that have only served to distract from the fact that American public-school children are failing academically. (3)
The Pioneer study’s authors, pediatrician Karen Effrem and attorney Jane Robbins, wrote:
“As student scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP, or the “nation’s report card”) paint a gloomy picture of students’ accomplishments in reading and mathematics (especially since the implementation of the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI)), education decision-makers look toward probing students’ psyches rather than instilling academic knowledge.”
In February, Robbins wrote at the Federalist that SEL champions such as the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) are now “brazenly trumpeting an even more troubling aspect of SEL: the opportunity to turn impressionable students into leftist activists.”
She observed that CASEL CEO Karen Niemi announced in December her company “has revised its definition of and framework for ‘socio-emotional learning’ to highlight the value of SEL as a weapon for social justice.” (3)
The exclusive focus on SEL in schools will turn our children into barely educated, vulnerable adults who will rally for any cause, right or wrong, good or bad, if told to.
Students do “sharing circles,” “community building” and “interdependent learning” in class during time that should be spent on academics. Getting the right answer is less important than getting an answer one feels good about. And being top of your class is barely whispered in school hallways lest other students get their feelings hurt. Under the phrase “generative themes,” SEL is hidden in lessons in math, reading, science, etc. like unhealthy icing on a very thin barely healthy carrot cake. While content is briefly covered, the generative themes like racism, activism, and gender ideology are firmly entrenched. Our kids don’t learn much math, but they become very good at social activism and racial division.
What’s the end game?
It’s not like Progressives haven’t made it clear to us what they value. Here is a statement from a 2016 abstract published by the World Economic Forum that is an indicator of where they believe the human race will evolve:
The impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the last decade and the speed and exponential growth of robotics, is forcing the shift towards a new form of global society where AI shares working space with humans and helps to shape a new culture and economy based in the implementation of creative ideas. We understand AI as computers and machines (robotics) which “has been given the sophistication needed to act intelligently” (Nilsson, 2014: p. 1) and therefore being able to perform as humans, even sometimes surpassing human capacities (Niewiadomski & Anderson, 2017) . Humans won’t be able to compete with AI regarding the process of information and data (Niewiadomski & Anderson, 2017).
Bill Gates, who is one of the listed partners of CASEL and a key participant and sponsor in the WEF states: “AI (artificial intelligence) is the big one…AI is quite revolutionary.” At the same time as the Gates Foundation has committed over $15 million to groups developing artificial intelligence for medical and educational purposes, he states that AI is like nuclear weapons, promising and dangerous.
It may not be clear immediately, but the emphasis is on the fact that machines and AI will take over for humans and people just need to learn what the WEF calls “soft skills.” Here’s a WEF chart showing skills in demand from 2018-2022 with an emphasis on what is trending and what is declining.
Did you notice something in the “declining list?” It lists reading, writing, math and active learning. This may be a shock to most of us since these skills are the ones that have been taught in schools for hundreds of years. It also lists memory, verbal, auditory, and spatial abilities. Those of us in the education field can tell you that those skills were traditionally on the tests we gave young children to determine their development and intelligence. Suddenly, these skills are replaced by emotional intelligence, social influence, leadership, and a variety of other “soft skills.”
Many people may ask, “What’s wrong with that? Shouldn’t we teach our children to work with others?”
Perhaps. But the result of this all-encompassing focus on SEL instead of academics is human beings who can’t use their brains to solve complex problems, read complicated passages, or recall basic knowledge. As those of us in our later years know, if you don’t use your mental faculties, you lose them. Imagine not having to use your brain to solve difficult equations or interpret what you have read ever in your life. You would be a person relying on others, or machines, to do that for you. That makes for a very controllable population at a very young age and for a very long time.
Ask any current business owner about recent, young hires and you will hear how these employees lack the basic skills and content knowledge to do their job. They also tell us that many young employees have no social skills either. Something is not working. And there are the state and national test scores which have regressed drastically in the past three years.
The focus on soft skills over actual knowledge and skills assures that future adults will give themselves over to the commands of their AI and/or human masters and will not have the mental or spiritual capacity for independence or, even worse, to have a conscience and believe in God. Man, and machines will become gods.
Some say that the WEF is merely going along with trends and riding the wave of unstoppable progress. But then we hear statements like this from Kathleen Phillips, WEF Agenda, 2022: ” Technology will become more intertwined with the body in the form of implants,” we realize something bigger is the point.
And, in a scarier quote, Xiao Liu of the WEF says, ” It’s now time for the Internet of Bodies. This means collecting our physical data via devices that can be implanted, swallowed or simply worn, generating huge amounts of health-related information.” (2)
The WEF is fully behind these implants being used to monitor, analyze and even modify human bodies and behavior.
Remember, Yuval Noah Harari ,WEF, told us in 2020, ” We are no longer mysterious souls; we are now hackable animals.” This means humans not only lose free will but their ability to be spiritual.
Any person who cherishes liberty and Christianity has to wonder what will happen to the human race. Most of us will pray to God that it doesn’t happen. But, the WEF’s Kathleen Phillips says not to pray, not to worry, because ” ethics will advise us.” Not God, morals, or long held religious beliefs, but situational ethics that humans devise. The same humans that not only can’t define man or woman but want to prescribe for three-year-old children drastic surgery and hormone treatments to fulfill a childish folly. The same humans who try to normalize pedophilia by describing its perpetrators as “minor attracted persons.” Man and machines as gods determining what is right and wrong.
Does the connection sound crazy to you? Can a program we teach in our public schools REALLY be part of a global campaign to promote transhumanism, abuse of children and a collectivist one world authoritarian government? Look at this from the World Economic Forum’s page about education and what they call, “Strategic Intelligence.”
To see the full extent of this graphic, go to the above link and click on any of the circles.
What’s more enlightening about this description of “quality education” is that it centers on practically everything BUT academic and “hard” skills. You’ll also notice that there is nothing about the importance of faith, religious beliefs, or even basic morals.
In fairness the people actually working in our schools don’t have those objectives at all. Most are convinced that what they are doing is good for children even when the test data show otherwise. And, incidents of violence, which SEL is supposed to reduce, are rising at an alarming rate. Honest educators think if they just work harder to implement SEL, if they just have more money, it will make things better.
What they don’t know is that the powerful elite, including those who run the Teachers’ Unions don’t care about student learning, competency or mental well-being. They want a population of uneducated, compliant drones so they have to creating exactly that.
No, they don’t care about declining test scores. In fact, I think many of them at the state, national, and international level are quite pleased at the result they created by focusing exclusively on Social Emotional Learning and all of the nonsense that comes with it. They can’t wait to throw competence and a belief in God out the window.
They want subjects with one very strong ability, how to be drones and go along with the “man/machines as gods collective.”
Those of us who know better can’t let that happen.
We need to:
Build Community Support-Churches, groups, etc.
Educate the Community on the Truth
Attend School Board meetings/County and State Government meetings
Monitor Grants/Contracts in your local school systems, etc.
Speak up with Facts!
Do not give the labels they use POWER!
Most important, pray. And teach your children about God and prayer.
From Zechariah 10: “For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd.”
We can’t let that happen to our children and grandchildren
New Phrases and Definitions to Look Out for in 2023
By Jan Greenhawk, Editor, Writer for Radio Free Oxford
From THE BIBLE:
Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language, they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel -because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth. – Genesis 11:1-9
This point of this story is that mankind attempted to build the Tower of Babel to reach to heaven and to act in rebellion to God. They desired to become God. So, God made them speak different languages so they couldn’t understand each other (previously they had all spoken the same language). God shut the rebellion down and scattered the rebellious throughout the corners of the Earth.
What does this have to do with education? That’s coming.
I was as a Christmas Party last week talking to a woman whose husband was President of a local school board. She was telling us what a great job he was doing and how proud she was of him, which was nice. Then, she made this statement after finding out that I was working with a group in my county as a voice for parents regarding how their children are being educated. She said, “Oh, well if you’re talking about CRT, it doesn’t exist in our schools. My husband has reviewed all the county textbooks and it isn’t there. There may be the occasional teacher who teaches CRT, but it isn’t in our schools.”
After I stifled the urge to laugh, I told her that of course her husband wasn’t finding CRT in textbooks. It doesn’t exist there. In fact, even when people observe classes or ask for lesson plans, they don’t find CRT explicitly taught. She stared at me blankly. I guess she thought that books would have a CRT Chapter or Section. I asked her if she had ever heard of “SEL.” She said she hadn’t so I explained to her that it was short for Social Emotional Learning and that it was basically the “operating system” for CRT and all other extremist ideas to be taught. Again, a blank stare. At that point our conversation stopped.
I suppose I shouldn’t blame this woman for her lack of knowledge. It’s not her fault. It’s the fault of the system that keeps people off balance and ill-informed about what is happening in our schools. They keep changing the terms and programs, disguising them, infusing them where we don’t expect them, and it’s working. They change them so often that even school personnel are not well versed on what is going on. I guess it could be plausible deniability.
Why would they do this? Read these recent stories:
Parents in the United States are starting to wake up to the academic and moral wasteland the public schools are becoming. They are also waking up to the increased violence without accountability and the war against parental rights. They are not only taking their kids out of the schools, but they are becoming more active in questioning schools and running for school board.
And the educational establishment including the unions, don’t like it. So, they hope they can quell some of it in one of three ways, suppressing their input, overwhelming parents with information, or confusing them with special and ever-changing educational phrases and terms.
Unlike the creators of the Tower of Babel, however, parents and parent/student advocates don’t have to scatter and can learn the language and ask questions.
So, here are the top ten new phrases/definitions in education that YOU need to look out for and ask questions about:
Statewide Longitudinal Data System: Almost all states have an agency that maintains and disseminates data from various agencies in that state. 50-State Comparison: Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems – Education Commission of the States (ecs.org) Our state, Maryland has: MLDSC Home Page (maryland.gov) The data is used for a variety of purposes and may include data on individual students, teachers, families etc. The state says the data is all anonymous. When surveys are conducted by the Maryland Department of Education, the data goes here. When Health Departments submit data, it goes here. When many school surveys are conducted by districts, that data might and sometimes does end up here. While the stated use of this data may seem innocuous, it’s important that parents know and ask questions about the data and the system. There have been some rumors that this data may eventually inform a Statewide Passport, I.D. program, or even a social credit system. Here’s some good advice: Teach KIDS to Say “No” to Data-Mining at School (substack.com) Look at this website for resources, including opt out letters: Courage Is A Habit Ask questions like the ones attached to list blog.
Community Schools: This term will be used more and more in 2023. It sounds great, a community school, like the one down the street in your neighborhood. But here are more facts: These Community Schools Aren’t What You Think They Are – Radio Free Oxford. Not only will these schools become “one stop shopping” for all services, but they will also cost billions and take the focus of schools OFF academics. Schools will be asked to provide trauma informed treatment, become doctors’ offices, nutritional services, dental services, workforce training for adults, and much more. Our students don’t need schools to be distracted, especially after two years of academic losses.
Trauma Informed Teaching/Mental Health Matters Act, HR 7780: This phrase and this bill are so new that even educators don’t know what they are. First, trauma informed teaching is built on the premise that a majority of our students are the victim of trauma in their lives. Trauma-Informed Teaching Strategies (ascd.org). There is NO doubt that many kids have suffered during Covid and in some cases the violence in their cities. However, during a time when teachers are struggling to teach reading, writing, math and other academics, we are forcing them into acting as crisis counselors and psychologists which they are not trained to do. It’s a new Progressive idea that ALL children need trauma informed teaching, forcing them to become victims. Federally, The Mental Health Matters Act exacerbates this problem by forcing schools to test all school children (public, private, and homeschool included) for mental health problems. It also funds an army of mental health staff into every public-school costing taxpayers billions and ensuring that mental health problems will be found whether or not they exist. This is referenced in this blog: Creating Mental Health Issues in Schools – Radio Free Oxford . Here is a one-page summary of HR 7780 Mental Health Matters Act Fact Sheet (house.gov). It won’t show you all the facts, but it will give you info.
Culturally Responsive Teaching/Culturally Responsive sustaining education: This is part of the new name for CRT (Critical Race Theory) and it is one of the most racist practices in education. Teachers will be trained not to teach students as individuals, but as members of ethnic, racial, gender, economic and sexual preference groups. Each group will have a list of “common learning styles and characteristics “and teachers will use that list to teach those in each group. For example, if a child is Black, it will be assumed that he should be taught in a certain way as a member of that race, not as an individual with special preferences and needs. These phrases are evident throughout the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and are the new fad of the day in teacher education.
Ant-racism: It’s no longer enough NOT to be racist, one has to be anti-racist which means you must constantly speak out about possible racism. Anti-racism is the creation of Marxist Ibram X. Kendi, who decided that everyone needs to spend every minute of the day talking about racial disparities. But those disparities only go in one direction according to Ibram. If one cannot find racism, they must create it. In the classroom, it means forcing white kids to decry and apologize merely for the color of their skin. It is one of the foundations of Critical Race Theory and is extremely divisive and dangerous. For example, a friend relayed a recent incident at a local private school. Several boys (all White) were playing in a classroom and one of the boys jumped over a desk. His friend laughed and called him “a monkey.” Immediately, the woke virtue signaling (and obviously anti-racist) principal of this school conducted a special training with the boys on racism. Apparently, using the word “monkey” is racist and must be stopped. At USC in California, the term “field” will no longer be used because the anti-racist lobby said it had racist connotations. This is Kendi’s vision in practice.
MTSS- Multi-tiered Systems of Supports: This is another phrase that sounds so good. What could possibly go wrong with providing needy children with all the supports they need? Here is the difference between RTI (Response to Intervention) and MTSS: RTI and MTSS | The Difference Between RTI and MTSS | Understood The key phrase repeated in MTSS is “whole child.” Schools used to focus on the academics of the child, MTSS now extends their mission to cover all aspects of a child’s life. Again, it sounds good and is well intentioned, but it is like most public programs, it will overstep its boundaries. It won’t be cost effective to throw millions of dollars and many new employees just to provide services to a few students; they will create “make work” practices that will find problems with children where none exist. As an example, consider that between 2016-2017 the number of gender changing surgeries in the U.S. quadrupled for females. (IRREVERSIBLE DAMAGE, Abigail Shrier). While counselors and indoctrination may not account for all of it, their constant counseling on gender confusion certainly encouraged it. Parents need to know about this strategy and how it is being used with their children.
Comprehensive Sexual (or Sex) Education: You probably remember what sex education USED to be. It was taught by your 9th grade Health or a Phys Ed teacher and was taught to boys and girls who were separated into same gender groups. The topics were basic information about gender and sex and how NOT to get an STD or get pregnant. At some point this was changed. First they changed the grade at which it is taught, moving it from 9th grade to as early as fifth grade. And they changed the content from basic biology of how things work to how to achieve sexual gratification. Here is one of the first bills considered in the Maryland House of Delegates this session: HB 199 Requiring the State Department of Education, in collaboration with the Maryland Department of Health, to develop a comprehensive health education framework; requiring each county board of education to create an age-appropriate curriculum that is consistent with the comprehensive health education framework; requiring each county board to establish a method by which a parent or guardian may opt out of certain topics, subject to certain requirements; etc. MD HB119 | 2023 | Regular Session | LegiScan While the sex education curriculum has been on the agenda for at least a year, the fact that this bill is one of the first up in the new session is concerning. For one thing, it seems the state has taken the choice away from your local school system as to what to teach and when to teach it. You can find the curriculum here: Maryland Comprehensive Health and Sex Education Curriculum – Search (bing.com) Not all of this curriculum is troublesome. But parents have real concerns about some portions of the curriculum that deals with “vaginal, oral and anal sex” being taught to children as young as fifth grade. There are also sections that foist sexual and gender orientations on children as young as in Kindergarten. While the Kindergarten lessons are not graphic or sexually explicit, they lead young children to consider sexual orientation and how it relates to family life. And, while parents can “opt out” of having their child participate, the State is setting up various hoops for parents to jump through to get that opt out. What is most concerning is that this Maryland Framework is sourced from the National Sex Education Standards which is authored and sponsored by some suspicious advocacy groups. One of them is: SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change. If you go to their website, you will see that the objective is “Sex Should Be for All.” They include descriptions of ” Masturbation May” and “SIECUS Condemns Florida Rule Restricting K-3 Teachers from Discussing Gender Identity and Sexuality.” Another sponsoring group of the National Sex Education Framework are GLSEN (Homepage | GLSEN). Others are shown below. There are NO Parents’ Rights or Religious Groups listed. No surprise.
En Loco Parentis/Confidentiality/Informed Consent vs. Implied Consent: Of all the language, parents should know these phrases and how they have been altered. En Loco Parentis: Here is an explanation: In Loco Parentis – Definition, Examples, Requirements (legaldictionary.net) Some educators are misusing this phrase to claim that they have the right to make all decisions for children in school in place of parents. This is how they justify hiding a child’s decision to become transgender from a parent OR give a child a vaccine without parental approval. Some counties, such as Montgomery County, Maryland have openly ruled that parents DO NOT have the right to know the gender decisions and treatments of their child. Confidentiality is also a word that has a new meaning regarding minor children. It used to be that this meant that only the parents and school officials could possibly have access to a child’s records. Now, a parent may actually have to do a special request to get their child’s records and those records may have some information redacted by educators. Informed consent vs. implied consent: Informed consent; While implied consent is informal, informed consent is a legal term that requires certain elements to be valid. The individual is competent and can understand what they’re consenting to. For example, a minor* may not give informed consent. Second, the individual is making the decision voluntarily — i.e., no one is forcing them to do so. For example, no one is telling a parent that without certain conditions, a child may not participate in school activities or even go to school. Third, the parent has received sufficient information to make a decision. For instance, a parent knows which activities their child will participate in and the possible consequences or long-term effects of those activities. Alternative activities are given. Informed consent is important with Covid vaccines at school. Principles of implied consent would include: 1. Having common or general knowledge on the activities their child would participate in at school. 2). No formal agreement allowing a child to participate in certain activities 3.) The presence of nonverbal communication (parent brings child to school). 4. Refusal of allowing child to participate in certain activities is not apparent. Implied consent is very common in health care. This is why opting out of certain classes and even school or class surveys is so important. When a parent doesn’t opt out, the school assume implied consent for their child to participate. *Maryland law allows minors to consent to certain treatments; New Maryland Law Allows Minors Ages 12 and Older to Consent to Mental Health Treatment Without Parental Consent | Pessin Katz Law, P.A. – JDSupra
It is vital that parents know the distinction between all these phrases and their definitions since many of them have changed over the past ten years.
I started out talking about the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel and how God forced rebellious groups to speak different languages and spread out in the world in order to keep them from thinking they were almighty God.
Surely, schools and government are not God, but they do construct their programs and literature to squash parent movements by confusing people with acronyms and changing language. In order for parents to have a chance at having a say in their child’s education, they need to know what they are saying and understand what it means. This won’t be the last time we have to redefine things, because Progressives disguise their programs all the time.
They will continue to throw things at us every single day. And God has NOTHING to do with that. But, parents need to educate themselves, ask questions, and fight back before it is too late.
Maryland Legislators Voted for Violence in Schools
Recent Drastic Increase in School Violence is the Responsibility of Maryland Lawmakers
By Jan Greenhawk, Editor/Writer, Radio Free Oxford
In the past year, I’ve seen videos of several violent attacks on students/teachers in our local schools, had parent reports of many others, and have heard of multiple bomb threats which have emptied school buildings and disrupted learning.
Were they in one of the large urban systems in the Baltimore/Washington areas? No. They were in a small, rural school system of around 4500 students. A system that has two high schools, two middle schools, and five elementary schools.
The latest incident shared with me on video was one in which a student bragged about nothing being “to(o) scary” right before she attacked another female student from behind in a school hallway. I won’t share the video because it is disgusting. The child who was attacked was thrown into the wall and onto the ground. The mother of the victim posted the attack online since the alleged perpetrator had proudly posted the video online. Apparently, this is the SECOND time this victim has been targeted. Comments under the post indicated that the attacker had done the same to other students in another middle school in the county. Yet she is still in school. She is still attacking other students.
Comments on the video included people suggesting the attacker be arrested, condemnation of the school system for not doing anything to suspend or expel this child, suggestions to contact the Board of Education and filing a bullying and harassment report, sending the video to news organizations, etc. One commenter said, ” So they suspend her, then what? She retaliates and takes it out on your daughter.”
All of the comments are valid. There were others that talked about how bad it is getting in the schools, not just here, but everywhere. This school in the video was once considered the “safe” school in the county since it is small (around 200 students). Apparently, it isn’t anymore.
If we look closely at what is going on here, certainly the school system bears some responsibility. But before we go all in blaming school officials, we need to know some facts.
First, schools do NOT have the discipline policies that many of us remember from our time in school. I have watched discipline policies drastically change during my long teaching career.
When I began teaching, discipline was fairly cut and dried. If you did something that violated school rules, you were held accountable. It was the same for all students. I’m not saying there weren’t abuses, there were. Social status, race, gender, etc. were sometimes the determining factor as to whether you were referred for disciplinary action or not. But if a student attacked another student, the standard procedure was immediate suspension and often expulsion. Due process was in place, but the student could not return to school after such an act.
In 2018, under the direction of State Superintendent ( and former Talbot County Superintendent) Karen Salmon, COMAR, laws that cover discipline in Maryland schools, was changed. Here is the document:
This ten-page document explains what schools can and cannot do. But, the last sentence in the “Purpose” summary says so much,” The language in the regulation has been revised to state that a student could be suspended for up to “five school days per incident,” if there was an imminent threat of serious harm to other students or staff that could not be reduced or eliminated through interventions and supports.”
This means that the schools have to jump through hoop after hoop of interventions, supports, etc. before even a child who is a danger to other students or to teachers can be suspended. That could be days, weeks, and months. If you are wondering exactly what these hoops are, they are part of what is called “restorative discipline.” That phrase is alluded to in the document in the last sentence:
The school system shall remedy the impact of a student’s behavior on school climate through appropriate intervention methods including restorative practices.
Restorative practices are part of restorative discipline. Restorative discipline is one of those initiatives that Progressives create to hide what they actually want behind pretty words and sweet-sounding promises. Their aim is not to actually improve student discipline and therefore academic success. Their aim is to further divide and create chaos in our schools, like they have with “Defund the Police” movements in our cities.
The concept of Restorative Discipline was brought to national prominence during the Obama Administration. In 2015, a large school system adopted what they called the “Promise” Agreement. This agreement, which is restorative discipline, required that schools not suspend or expel students for violent behavior or even discipline them for various infractions, but instead offer counseling, intervention, and even rewards if they promised not to offend again. Teachers were to do “healing circles” and participate in “reparative dialogues.” It was done in the name of keeping children out of the “school to prison pipeline.” It got rid of “zero tolerance” and instead instituted a “multi-tiered system of supports” and a matrix of discipline levels which must be followed in order to discipline a student. Classroom teachers were required to collect data on misbehavior and the various interventions they implemented with the student prior to the removal of that student from the classroom. In essence, there were no immediate or actual consequences for poor or dangerous behavior. (Source: WHY MEADOW DIED, Pollack and Eden)
The large school system got tremendous national attention and accolades for implementing this program. Teachers were evaluated on their discipline data. Too many kids in a teacher’s classroom get suspended, and that teacher could be in jeopardy of losing his/her job. As one teacher, Kim Krawczyk, put it, “We began to spend more time calling parents and doing paperwork for troublemakers than planning lessons for the kids who wanted to learn. With all this paperwork and principals who won’t want to process it anyway, the best we can do for the good kids is to just let the troublemakers disrupt the class and try to teach around them.” (Source: WHY MEADOW DIED, Pollack and Eden)
In reality, discipline was not just overhauled, it was demolished.
The name of the system? Broward County, Florida. Do you know that name? You should, it was the site of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School on February 14, 2018. The student who killed his peers was a product of the Promise program among other horrible district policies and mistakes. Regardless of what the anti-gun zealots want us to believe, the lack of discipline and removing this kid from the school was the cause. The schools had been warned about him. No one listened.
And now we are using a similar system in Maryland. No wonder we see principals unwilling to suspend/expel students and even more willing to sweep students’ violent acts under the rug. Their hands have been tied by State law.
But MSDE isn’t the biggest problem.
In 2022, the Maryland Legislature did something that will make schools incredibly unsafe for students and teachers. Maryland State Senator Jill Carter (D-Baltimore City 41) sponsored a bill that would prevent a child under 10 years of age of being charged with any crime; not in the juvenile system and not as an adult. Children 10 -12 may not be charged and referred to the juvenile system unless they have committed rape or murder. Juvenile court jurisdiction kicks in when a child turns 13. This was done in the name of “protecting both public safety and the sanctity of childhood.”
At least the safety and sanctity of the childhood of violent children. Other children are on their own.
And parents are starting to see the effects of this bill. How long before the attacker above seriously injures or kills another student intentionally or by accident? What are the long-term effects on the victims? How can their parents send them to school and believe they are safe? This attacker was moved from another school to her current school in an act we used to call, “passing the problem.”
Educators will say that this is an attempt to get the attacker out of an environment and social group in her old school that encouraged her violent behavior. Unfortunately, what we are finding is that most of the predatory children continue to the same behaviors after they move. The fact that the attacker posted her attack on social media shows that moving her to different schools will not work. She is proud of what she did, and she will do it again.
So, what do parents do? Certainly, sitting by and watching your child get terrorized and attacked at school is NOT an option.
The following are MY suggestions as a former teacher and are NOT legal advice.
YOU MUST ABSOLUTELY NOT CONTACT OR INTERACT IN PERSON OR ONLINE WITH THE OTHER CHILD, THEIR FAMILY, FRIENDS, ETC. DOING SO COULD PUT YOU IN LEGAL JEOPARDY. REFRAIN FROM POSTING VIDEOS OF MINORS ON SOCIAL MEDIA, EVEN IF YOU ARE REPOSTING WHAT THEY POSTED.
When meeting with school and district staff, be polite and remember that they are not necessarily the problem.
Meet with school administration about the incident. Be prepared that they will NOT tell you the punishment or action for your child’s attacker. Questions to ask are: How will you protect my child from further attacks or targeting? What assurances do I have that there will not be retribution on my child? Do not allow them to respond generically with something like, “We want all our students to be safe so we practice active monitoring, etc.” You want to know how they are specifically going to protect YOUR child. Make them put any steps they have IN WRITING. After you meet with administration and agree on what they will do, tell them you will be forwarding that plan to the Superintendent as a follow up. This provides a backup in case school-based administrators don’t act. Also inform them that you will be contacting a lawyer to make sure you know your rights and the rights of your child
Contact a lawyer and find out your rights and the rights of your child. A lawyer will also be able to provide guidance for what you should and shouldn’t do. They can also guide you so you stay out of trouble!
Arrange a meeting with the Superintendent of Schools to review school-based plans and discuss the problem.
Don’t be afraid to share the situation with your local County Council, Board of Education, State legislators, media, etc. if the situation is not addressed. Again, be mindful of the privacy rights of minors. As perverse as it may seem, YOU could actually get in trouble for sharing video of the attack especially if the minor is identified. In today’s world, the victim can become the bad guy very quickly.
Contact law enforcement just as a paper trail.
As kids learn that there are no repercussions for their actions, these attacks will increase. Schools and school administrators will do their best to keep it from happening, but they will not always be successful.
So, who is responsible for this debacle? Here is a list of delegates who voted for and against this bill:
As Maryland and other States in the Country Drift Toward More Progressive Programs for Children, Parents Have a Decision to Make
by Jan Greenhawk, Editor/writer, Radio Free Oxford.
In Maryland, we know what is coming. Much like California, New York, Oregon, Washington and other crazy blue states, parents should be able to foretell the actions that will be taken against their children by the Maryland government in 2023.
The question is, what will they do about it?
As we ended our Gubernatorial election in November and elected one of the most radical leftist governors ever, our citizens need only look at Wes Moore’s campaign rhetoric to see what is coming.
He made no secret of what he plans on doing. Once you get past all the fancy “kumbaya” language about getting along, love for all and yada yada yada, you will see exactly what Wes is going to enact. Here’s a link for those who want to see for themselves: Issues – Wes Moore for Maryland
Because we focus on education here, we will touch briefly on those issues that directly impact what happens to children in this state even outside the public schools. Moore plans to:
Recruit businesses that support LGBTQ and abortion from Conservative states to come to Maryland. He refers to those states as “far right.” So this means he wants to bring “far left” businesses here.
Create a huge network of state supported childcare facilities for parents. This means a child could be in the hands of the state from birth to adulthood. He even uses that as a slogan in his education plan.
Decrease the credentialing requirements for high demand STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) jobs. Credentials that once required four years to complete will reduce demands to two years at free community colleges. (Can’t wait for that Engineer who has had two years of training to design a bridge, can you?)
Free Community College. Enough said. This is already starting with the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future providing free community college dual enrollment for any high school student. This includes tuition, materials, and transportation, all covered by the local district and state. Maybe that sounds great to you, but who will pay the bill? Also, when Community Colleges are funded by the State, they are CONTROLLED by the State.
Focus on helping Black families with special programs and funding. Without going into specifics, the idea here is race based eligibility for help. So, if you are not Black and are poor or underserved, too bad. One of the most racist points in this proposal is that Moore includes specific funding for formerly incarcerated people. This is included in a proposal for Black families. See any problem there? He assumes that Black people have been incarcerated. (Heads up, wherever you see the term “disproportionally” realize that it is a rationale for quotas.)
Promise quotas for Women too. (Except he doesn’t talk about formerly incarcerated folks here. Wonder why?)
Pander to the LGBTQ community. He’s going all in on their issues and for “gender affirming” care, especially to our children in the public schools. This will include graphic sex education for children as young as third grade. All kinds of sexual practices will be presented and promoted to kids. Parents MAY be able to opt out, but this is unclear.
Now, specifically for schools and our children:
He heads his program with the title: “From Cradle to Career”. Interpret that for exactly what it says. There is a great deal in this plan, but I want to focus on some key issues parents need to know:
1. Mr. Moore will fully support the funding of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, which will increase the tax burden for Marylanders by 34% in the next five years. That may seem small year by year but remember that this is calculated without inflation. It could end up being much more in a time when people are financially strapped. And, the Blueprint removes local control of school funding, thus destroying local governance. Teachers’ unions will be in full control since he owes them for their millions of dollars in campaign funds. Contacting your County Council and School Board will no longer have an impact. Blueprint – Maryland State Department of Education (marylandpublicschools.org)
2. Moore wants to expand Community Schools. This does not mean he wants to increase schools in communities, it means he wants to make schools “one stop shopping”(and one stop control) for a myriad of services they are not intended or equipped to provide (nutrition programs, trauma informed care, dental services, medical services, workforce training for ADULTS, plus many more programs.) Here’s a synopsis of the Community School movement: These Community Schools Aren’t What You Think They Are – Radio Free Oxford
3. When it comes to Social Emotional Learning, Wes is fully on board. If you want a definition of SEL, think mental manipulation of children. It’s the assumption that EVERY child coming into a public school needs mental health “care” and possibly therapy, including drug therapy. It is the door that allows the schools to convince your child that he/she is gender confused and may need surgery or hormone therapy to fix that. SEL, is the “operating system” that allows all other indoctrination programs that promote racial division to work. Here is more on SEL: Destabilizing Children: Are Schools Conducting a “Psy-Op” on Our Kids? – Radio Free Oxford
4, Wes is fully supportive of allowing LGBTQ groups to direct education, especially sex education, in our schools. While claiming to be “inclusive” and against bullying, he will implement policies that allow boys on girls’ sports teams and in girls’ locker rooms. He will also permit sex education programs that are graphic and inappropriate for children as well as allowing our youngest students to be indoctrinated in LGBTQ ideology and vulnerable to dangerous transgender treatments and surgery.
5. On one of the most important issues for parents, mask and vaccine mandates and school lockdowns, Moore has artfully ducked the direct answer to whether or not he will implement any of these drastic measures for Covid or any other infectious disease. Here is what he has actually said:
While he won’t come out and say he will do any of the above, remember that “follow the science” has been the mantra of every government entity from local/state to federal since Covid began. It has been the excuse to lockdown schools, to require certain populations to get a vaccine which has since been proven harmful to many, and to discriminate against and isolate some populations. It will be his excuse to require this vaccine for YOUR child to attend a Maryland Public School, even though it has been shown that children are not in danger from Covid, and the vaccine causes heart problems and other grave disabilities in adolescents.
Given ALL that information plus more I didn’t put in this blog, what will YOU do if these things come to pass under Wes Moore? Will you keep your kids right where they are, remain silent, and hope for the best?
I would think not.
Understand that I don’t want anyone making decisions on what COULD or MIGHT happen. After all, most of the garbage in Moore’s plans were inserted to influence his voter base to vote for him. It’s a smorgasbord of pie in the sky, crazy leftist ideas that probably are too impractical, expensive and politically dangerous for him to attempt.
However, given the recent history with the Biden Administration, would you have thought ANY of the horrific initiatives he talked about when running would actually be done? Yet, look where we are. He’s done most of them. And Moore will have an overwhelming majority in the legislature.
Parents need to be prepared. Just like when you are staring at a destructive hurricane coming up the coast and possibly destroying your home, you need to be smart and have a plan to make a change with your child and his/her schooling.
Now is the time to start doing your homework. Yes, I know it is hard after a long day at work. I know you are busy trying to hang on during this horrible economy. But this is your children and their future we are talking about.
First, get informed on what is currently happening in schools. Talk to your children, your neighbors, etc. When there are school meetings or parent/teacher conferences, go. Pay attention to what you see and hear there. Look at posters on the wall, announcements in classrooms, reading materials on bookshelves. You may be surprised, and horrified, at what you see.
I hear from people all the time that “this isn’t happening in our schools.” Maybe it isn’t, yet. I promise you it will get to your schools sooner or later. Shouldn’t you know firsthand?
Attend school board meetings regularly. If you can’t attend, view the livestream. Yes, they are long and boring. But you learn a lot from listening and watching what goes on. Become acquainted with the Superintendent and members of the Board. Be open to what you hear and use information for research. Don’t assume without knowing.
Research terms and phrases you hear. Don’t rely on the system to define terms for you, find out for yourself. Educators love changing vocabulary to keep people off balance. Sometimes they don’t even know what some of the terms mean! (We will have a blog on some of the terms this week.)
Have an exit plan. Can you afford private school? Can you find a way to Homeschool? If not, start figuring out how you could do either. Research private schools in your area. Talk to homeschool parents. There are many homeschool parent groups online. You may have to save money to get funding to support private school tuition or to stay home and teach your children.
Also, be part of the solution to the problems if and when they occur. Join a local parent group with values and goals in line with yours. And don’t just join it but become active in it. These groups will help you learn what you need to know and will provide you with a voice to those running the school systems. But they also need your help getting tasks done.
In our county, Moms for Liberty is active advocating for parental rights. They are a non-partisan, nationally recognized group. Visit momsforliberty.org for more information.
It’s not enough to hope it doesn’t happen. You have to be ready if it does.
You don’t want to look at your child in ten or twenty years and realize that you could have protected him/her and you didn’t.
Second Edition: Celebrating Sheeple since 2021(or as we like to call them, the Sheepies)
by Jan Greenhawk, Editor/Writer for Radio Free Oxford
Radio Free Oxford is proud to present our second edition of the Sheepie Awards. These awards were created in 2021 to honor those in our local, state, regional and national communities who display the amazing attributes of sheep in various venues including government, education, politics and communications.
The awards have been determined by the mail in votes of our readers. If you didn’t get your ballots, we apologize. Maybe a dead person somewhere has it. Or maybe it was Covid. Or maybe your postal worker threw it away. Good news is that there are no time limits on voting and we will accept votes at any time, especially if we need them to nudge our preferred candidates for awards. In the immortal words of Joe Biden, “we have created the most extensive voter fraud network.”
Next year we hope for Mark Zuckerturd to set up many collection boxes across the country and world. Votes are counted and verified by our legal team of Dewey, Cheatem and Howe.
The Sheepies are given to recognize exceptional stupidity, corruption, arrogance, fraudulence, and even some flatulence. While he had planned this year for a big red-carpet event, inflation, our budget and the fact that we aren’t Ukrainian, have prevented it.
Remember, sheep do whatever they are told and will follow their leaders off a cliff. When they are the leaders, they will lead their flock off the cliff.
There are so many awards, we split them into two different blog posts; National/State and Local. And then, like Pandora’s Box, after we release all the bad/stupid/evil, we then release a blog about those that bring us hope in 2023.
We like to start with our SUPPORT awards first since without the people in the background, there would be no images, performances, or DRAMA ( and who doesn’t like drama!) There are MANY this year.
The “Some Like it NOT Hot Award”For Extraordinary Achievement in Deceptive Costuming, it was a tough battle. Our three finalists were Rachel Levine, HHS Assistant Secretary, Sam Brinton former Assistant Secretary in charge of our nuclear waste, and Vladimir Zelensky, President of Ukraine. * For those of you who don’t understand the reference of this award, look it up.
Rachel and Sam: These two, with their unencumbered fearless attitude of letting it all hang out, good or bad, were tops in this category. Some say that perhaps they should both “try a little harder.” Maybe that’s why Sam was stealing women’s luggage at airports. Certainly, Rachel sees something different in the mirror than the rest of us.
Although Rachel did try a new “do.”
Can’t unsee that can you?
Our next nominee is Vladimir Zelensky. While Vladimir Zelensky HAS many suits, he has only been seen lately in olive drab sweatsuits. It’s almost as if he has a closet FULL of them, ready to be put on every time he is required to perpetrate the con that has gotten him billions to launder! Like Batman, but a money laundering Batman.
Reminds us of another “freedom fighter” who conned U.S. Senators before he became a tyrant in his country:
Remember this guy? His name was Castro and he was a darling of our government right up until the time he showed his true nature. He cozied up to our government while wearing his camo and they fell for it.
THE Winner? Zelensky of course. His creative costuming has earned him BILLIONS in U.S. Taxpayer dollars and has assured his place in the New World Order Hall of Fame. He even got TIME’S Person of the Year! Congrats Z! You are starting to show your true nature now by jailing journalists and those practicing certain religions in your country! And now he has an invite to the World Economic Forum!
*Our apologies to Justin Trudeau, who many have said is the actual son of Castro.
Set Design: Once again, whoever does Joe Biden’s set design is so far ahead of everyone else that his is the only nominee in this category. This year staff members have out done themselves with their hell like background for Biden’s speech at a building that once represented American freedom, Independence Hall:
The set designers at the White House have outdone themselves and exceeded last year’s set of empty containers on a dock behind Biden. This set, down to the illegal use of the military, the red devilish coloring in the background, and the Hitler like flailing of Biden’s arms make this a slam dunk. Who else could make Independence Hall look like both Hell AND Nazi Germany?
Way to go GUYS!
The Teenage Pout in Progress Award: Best performance by an adult adolescent who happens to be in public office. (The name references the expression of every bored teenager on family vacation! Come on, you know you have seen it. Identifying the “TPIP” is a great game for time at amusement parks.)
Winner: Liz Cheney
Poor Liz. Despite her father’s heartfelt shakedown video in support of her right before the primaries, she didn’t make it out of the primaries in her home state of Wyoming. Liz has found purpose and meaning lately, somewhat like the teenaged climate change “expert” Gretta Thunberg. In fact, the two of them are so much alike, one could assume they went to the same school of public facial affect or were separated at birth.
This is Greta. She was mad that Trump ignored her at a public function in 2019. Here’s video:
This is Liz. She was also mad that Trump ignored her.
Although Greta’s face is a bit angrier, Liz’s is more consistent since this is the expression she maintains constantly. Here is another example:
This is Liz still mad.
Of course, one could say that this is the preferred expression of someone who is on a kangaroo court held by Congress to frame a Presidential Candidate they don’t like.
Congrats Liz. I hear you might run for President. If so, you may want to turn that “frowny” face upside down and also get some Botox. Ask your gal pal Nancy about that.
Mental delusion category: The Clueless in Seattle, and Everywhere Else Award.
“American families are doing better.” “We added ten million jobs last year.” “The U.S. deficit is falling.” “Gas prices are fine.” ” I can ride a bike.”
These are just a few of the spoken gems from this recipient, none other than
Joe Biden. He fell down and went boom!
While his trophy wife Jill will say that Joe is fine, it’s hard to ignore all of his senile moments. Along with his false memories, temper tantrums, and verbal blunders, Joe just doesn’t seem to know where he is.
For the record, we also want to recognize Joe for his award of the “SBD Award for Timely Farting in Public.” Although the most notable of his farts occurred in front of the Pope, this story of a vote two years ago stands the test of time:
Congratulations Joe! Let us know when you get the, the, oh you know, the thing, in the mail.
The John Fetterman Award for Outstanding Achievement in Saying Nothing That Makes Sense While Speaking: There are two nominees in this category; Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States and Karine Jean-Pierre, Press Secretary for the Biden Administration. (Note: Joe Biden was a strong third in this category, but we found Kamala and Karine deserving recipients. And we needed diversity.)
First up, Kamala Harris:
Thanks to the Aussies for the wonderful re-cap of two of Kamala’s “shining” moments. And another:
And then there’s this gem that would make any Pre-k teacher proud:
Let’s face it, Kamala brings a lot of “talent” to this category.
But don’t discount Karine Jean-Pierre’s ability to talk about nothing. And she does it with typewritten scripts! Now that is TALENT!
And sometimes, a girl just gets MAD, am I right?
There’s more material on KJP, again from Skynews:
We don’t do this often, but we have to call this a draw. Congratulations ladies. Can we call you “ladies?” Ask Supreme Court Justice Kentaji Brown Jackson.
The “Anthony Fauci Oops Did I Say That Award“: This award, named after the troll who controlled and botched the entire Covid situation and is responsible for the death of millions, is for those people who work so hard to prove to us that they know what they are doing while they know little, or worse, are lying or are compromised. In fact, they are caught time after time changing their tune. Here is a video of Fauci flippity flopping. I can’t stomach hearing his voice, can you? I take no responsibility for your discomfort or pure irritation at listening to this:
For this award, me must go back in time to visit our nominee, Leana Wen. If you don’t know Dr. Wen, she is the one-time President of Planned Parenthood, a one-time official in the Baltimore City Health Department, and an Op-Ed columnist with THE WASHINGTON POST and a CNN Medical Analyst. Dr. Wen, was born in Shanghai, China (bear that in mind as you listen)
Here is Dr. Wen telling people who don’t get the Covid vaccine what their lives should be like:
Hmmmm….Sounds JUST like China, doesn’t it? She even has the slight accent to go with the theory.
I’m not sure what happened here. Maybe the Yuan stopped coming in the mail, or maybe all the Twitter revelations has Leana seeing an orange jumpsuit and bars in her future. Who knows.
This next award is called the “Trump is Living Rent Free in My Head” Award. The nominees might surprise you, because not all of them are so called “progressives.” This award is for someone who just can’t get over their Trump Derangement Syndrome. This person can often be found on Twitter proclaiming: “We’ve got him now!” followed by an expletive about former President Trump. You can find many of them online, and it’s quite amusing.
I think George “likes” Trump. A lot. And, by they way, no one EVER accused Trump of human trafficking. But, when did facts ever stop Mr. Zulu?
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s the “old crow,” the post turtle himself, Mitch McConnell.
It seems Mitch is either jealous or his wife Elaine told him to hate Trump. Either way:
Of course, Mitch received many other awards as well, The White Flag Award for those who surrender at all costs, the My Heart Belongs to China for those who are star employees for the Chinese Communist Party, and the Best Speech with Marbles in His Mouth, which is self-explanatory.
One final expanded category: “The Marvin the Martian Award for Most Alien Appearance.” This goes to Sam Bankman Fried and his girlfriend Caroline Ellison, whose appearances and actions just scream “ALIEN BEING!” Elon Musk was in the running for this award but it’s hard to defeat these two.
If they make a sequel to the show “Resident Alien” they have the roles locked up! That is if they both aren’t actually locked up.
Finally, a few quick national categories and their recipients:
Best Performance by a Part Time Employee– Tie between Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg
Best Performance by a Drunk in a Leading Role: Nancy Pelosi
Best Performance by a Puppet Master: Barack Obama
Best Performance by an Agency Suppressing Free Speech: The FBI, The CIA, CDC, DOJ and any other three letter government agency.
LOOKING AHEAD: Next up will be the State and Local Awards, so stay tuned!
During this week of Christmas, Radio Free Oxford will take a brief break.
As we all celebrate the holidays, Radio Free Oxford will be taking a short break to spend time with family, enjoy the season, and re-energize. Doing a blog like this can be time consuming and also mentally draining. There are so many topics to cover, and we want to do them with detail and great sourcing.
Knowing how I am, I will probably spend some time researching, listening, reading, etc. Rest assured that after Christmas, we’ll be back out here with new blogs about education, politics and also a new 2023 edition of Education Emergency. Evil doesn’t go away because there is a new year! There are so many “new” programs and initiatives that the left will use for the “mass production of ignorance.”
And don’t forget the 2022 Edition of the Sheepies where we honor those people in National, State and local with recognition of their amazing membership in the “herd” of sheeple.
So, thank you for all your support this past year. Enjoy the time with your families and friends! I hope Santa is good to you, but never forget the real reason for this season. His name is in the word, Christmas.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!!
Being Understood is Deemed Racist
California English Teacher Declares It’s Racist to Expect Black Students to Follow Grammar and Writing Rules
By Jan Greenhawk, Editor/Writer Radio Free Oxford
To all my former English students, especially the ones who hated grammar and writing rules, Marta Shaffer, a high school teacher in California (where else?) is on your side. Well, if you don’t want to learn how to write, anyway. This is her:
Isn’t she amazing? While using all the rules of English like syntax, word meaning, grammar etc., she shares the message that all the rules of English like syntax, word meaning, grammar, etc. are racist. It’s quite a feat if you ask me, and a great indicator of the true idiocy and racism that is present in some of our nation’s classrooms. The problem with teachers like her run so deep, it’s almost impossible to address. But I will try.
I was a former English teacher. I started out teaching middle school English and ended my career teaching high school English. The secret is that I hated grammar when I started teaching. I was young and stupid and had the misguided notion that writing should occur in a natural state like speech. Why should we care about all those rules of subject/verb agreement, verb tense, parts of speech? I didn’t see it as a racial issue, but a “freedom of expression” issue.
And then I began teaching and saw that without all those stifling rules, my students were almost incomprehensible in their writing. I realized that if we didn’t teach them the basics of grammar, they would never be able to write a college admissions letter, a job resume, or even a story about their lives. I wasn’t focusing on doctoral dissertations or scholarly research, I just wanted them to be understood and seen as educated.
Was that racist? No. In fact, it was opposite of racist. Teaching all my students how to use what I called “formal” English in the situations which demanded it was a way to overcome any disparities that existed. It’s like teaching soccer players the rules of soccer. If you are on the playground and want to play soccer with your friends, you may not need to the rules. But, if you want to play, good, organized soccer, if you don’t know the rules you are at a disadvantage. If my students could write in an organized, standard manner, they would have the possibility of success in the professional world regardless of their race or economic status.
That’s what Shaffer thinks is wrong. She says these are all rules created by White culture to promote White supremacy and, as an extra bonus, misogyny as well. I guess women and minorities aren’t expected to be able to use grammar rules in her mind. That in itself highlights her own racist and sexist attitudes!
She makes the point that the rules are all “arbitrary” and “made up.” I hate to tell her this, but most rules in life are “made up.” As one Twitter user said, “ALL RULES ARE MADE UP!!! We make them up to when I write something, the reader can understand, with precision, what I am communicating, without the benefit of my facial cures or body language or being able to ask clarifying questions.”
Shaffer says that “as an educator I am constantly worried if I am part of the problem.” She’s right about that part. She is part of the problem of incompetent, indoctrinated and foolish teachers who spew their ignorance and personal peeves to students and other teachers. Somewhere down the line, Shaffer must have gotten what English teachers call the “red pen treatment.” In other words, someone must have marked up her writing with a red pen and told her how bad it was. Many of us have faced that and gotten better because of it. Not her. Bitterness can really influence a person.
It’s also possible that she is a practitioner of what I call “compassionate racism.” She may have seen her minority students struggling with their writing because of their lack of exposure or education in grammar and decided that instead of teaching them the rules, she would remove the expectation that they could learn. In her mind, they would never learn how to write properly so why not just skip teaching them how? With that decision, she denied them of the education they needed. I wonder if she denied her other students as well.
Is she just trying to set herself apart as a virtue signaling “woke” teacher? I have seen people, in an attempt to stand out, say and do some pretty stupid, illogical things. And then, of course, like Shaffer, they post them on social media. If that was the case, I’m sure she was a bit shocked at the negative comments she got. Or maybe she wasn’t and just used those responses to bolster her ” systemic White Supremacy” theory.
Or maybe she is hopping on the latest fad of misusing pronouns to identify people who are suffering from delusions regarding their gender, species, etc. Every time I hear a singular person being referred to as “they/them” I look for more than one person because that is what that pronoun is used for.
I know one thing for sure. She is NOT a gifted, caring teacher. If she was, she would find a way to teach ALL her students how to write and speak in a world that has expectations for formal, business speech and grammar. She would help them learn how to structure essays and speeches in a manner that would promote them in their collegiate and professional aspirations. She would make sure they understood the difference between casual and formal speech.
But that would mean real creativity, skill, love for her craft, and passion for the formulas that allow us to be understood in any situation.
Instead, she chose to demean herself, her students and all teachers in her stupid, self-serving social media post. Shame on her and others like her.
Take a look at test scores nationwide. They are in the dumpster in all subjects, including writing and English. Teachers like Shaffer are a huge part of the reason. They must have decided that anything that challenges children is too hard, and they shouldn’t teach it. Instead, they spend their time mired in excuses and blame for why kids aren’t learning anything. They spread racial division and flawed gender identity ideology. It’s easier to teach those concepts than the actual content and skills that children need to know in order to be successful adults.
While they continue to do that, they are crippling our children and possibly destroying their future. And they don’t seem to care.
by Jan Greenhawk, editor/writer for Radio Free Oxford
Maryland Preliminary Test Scores are Released, and it is a Devastating PictureBeing Used for Political Reasons
Elections are over. County Commissions and School Boards are getting trained and seated. Newly elected/re-elected state and national officials are being sworn in and inaugurated.
And the 2022 Maryland Test Scores are being released. They are devastating.
It’s a timely release now that elections are over. A release that would normally occur in August or September was initially pushed back to January. The excuses were many. New test. Standard Setting. Item testing. Whether any of those excuses were valid remains in question. And, after viewing the scores, the larger issue comes into view.
Our children are failing, and we are failing our children.
Board members, politicians and Union officers across the state will deny that. They’ll shout “Covid, covid, covid” from the rooftops and will convince us that the Pandemic closures they created and enforced, the mask mandates they clung to; the problems they designed, are the main causes of this disaster.
They are not completely wrong. All of those actions are contributors to the educational plunge of our students. The irony is that those very groups shouting this were the ones who refused to listen to parents when parents saw that the lockdown of the schools and mask and vaccine mandates were destroying our children. Research articles were sent to education officials across the state to help them understand that they were sacrificing our children for a virus that would infect and harm less than one percent of the students they were claiming to protect. And now those students are paying a horrible price. Most of the officials ignored the information. Others ridiculed and admonished the people who sent them, telling them they were sending “misinformation.”
But now the test scores have been released and the proverbial chickens have come home to roost:
The document put out by the Maryland State Department of Education is long, but here are a couple of snapshots of the data from the English Language Arts and Math on the Maryland tests.
The different levels of achievement on the test are defined in this document from MSDE:
One of my favorite descriptors here is the one that says, “Proficient Learners demonstrate proficiency.” I guess there was not a thesaurus nearby to find another word for “proficient.” To define a term with the term is idiocy. Maybe the authors of this report didn’t score very well on their ELA tests.
No matter how you define the levels the testing data is clear. In English/Language Arts, in all grades except 10th, less than half the students are proficient or above. Think about that. If you have a thousand graduates coming out of the Maryland Public Schools, 500 out of the 1000 won’t be able to read and write with the proficiency that would be expected from a high school graduate. Doesn’t bode well for students going on to college or the work force.
In the case of those who go to college, many will find themselves unprepared to do collegiate level work, even when colleges lower their standards to accommodate them. This is why colleges have now eliminated SAT scores for acceptance and have started giving college credit for remedial courses. If they don’t, they will have students not attending, dropping out or failing in their first year. This costs the colleges tuition money and certainly angers their customers, parents and students.
Even students who go onto job training or jobs will be hobbled by this lack of knowledge. An employee who cannot read directions is not only inefficient but could put himself and others in danger. The same goes for writing.
But if you thought English Language Arts was bad, when one looks at the Math scores it’s as though we have crossed over into an education system in the poorest, most uneducated country in the world. Less than thirty percent of our elementary students and less than 20 percent of secondary students are proficient in math. In 8th grade, it is less than 10 percent. That means that out of 1,000 high school graduates in Maryland, 800 are not able to do rudimentary math.
Good thing they have computers doing all the calculations at stores, right? Ask an employee to give you change from a purchase or determine a 20% discount and you will encounter a deer in headlights. No wonder kids are in such economic straits with college loans, they couldn’t do the math to figure out how much they would be paying for them after graduation.
The disaster is in plain sight for all to see. I could go on about the terrible effects of these scores, but I think that would be beating a dead horse. Instead, let’s look at the politics of these scores.
In September, I spoke to our local school board about the fact that the Maryland State Department of Education did not release scores in a timely fashion. I also wrote about it in this blog:
You can read my analysis of the motives for holding back these scores in that blog.
After I wrote this blog and spoke in front of our local Board of Education, I was told by a Board member at a subsequent Board meeting that the delay was merely for the standard setting, item testing, and implementation of a new test. I politely said that I was well aware of the systems and processes involved in statewide testing since I had been a local accountability coordinator in my county in the 2000’s. Even when we gave the Maryland State Assessment that required essay answers and laborious scoring, we were able to get scores out in a timely fashion.
And then I politely told her that the reasons she was given were bull. (This is not an indictment of HER but of the lies the State tells.)
We have to understand how this all works. If the State had released these scores prior to the November election, they could have drastically changed the results in many races, particularly gubernatorial and local school board elections. Democrats and teachers’ unions who have been in charge of education for decades, would have suffered. Those “Apple ballot” endorsements could have turned into poison pills.
Now that elections are over, the dismal scores will serve a purpose for both the education establishment and the unions.
Educators have a love/hate relationship with testing. Ever since standardized tests were created, they have used them to pat themselves on the back AND to demonstrate that they could do so much better if they only had more money, sometimes all in the same press release.
Frankly, educators haven’t had anything to pat themselves on the back in the last forty years. Standardized testing, once used to assess how individual students were doing, has never given systems good news about the achievement of groups of students. Even when the Bush Administration bragged that “No Child Left Behind” would improve student achievement because it made testing high stakes for systems, test scores year after year were depressing. Once data was disaggregated, this trend was even worse. Threats of replacing school administration and teachers if minorities did not do well on tests did nothing other than cause staff to quit or to cheat. In fact, many of us scoffed at the threat. We knew they could never replace the staffs of all the schools they called failing. The threats never made minority, or any, scores inch one tick higher.
When Maryland introduced “high stakes” tests for graduation, schools quickly found out that too many students could not pass these tests. They created “work arounds” for those students whose graduation would be prevented by failing test scores. They created easy “bridge projects” to take the place of the tests. It was sort of like the long-time practice of putting students into the “magic course credit room” where credit for a semester course could be earned in a week so a star athlete could walk the stage and get that diploma. Educators can be quite creative in cheating the testing achievement obstacle. Every year they bragged about increased graduation rates even with high stakes testing in place. No one talked about how that was actually achieved.
The sad reality is that our children are the victims and pawns in the testing paradigm.
As the recent scores in Maryland show, the students are victims as they are not getting the education they need and deserve. Aside from the lockdowns, even what has been done in schools since they re-opened has been a disaster. Instead of focusing on catching kids up on content and skills, schools have veered towards a destructive obsession with social engineering, using gender, racial division and mental health malpractice in classrooms. It’s as though they realize that the damage they did during the pandemic is impossible to undo so they center on woke distractions that neither help nor educate children.
This focus also promotes the “community schools” concept that Maryland is pushing with the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. If you don’t know what those are, here’s an explanation:
Which brings us to the fact that students have become pawns in the big money grab by the U.S. Department of Education, the Maryland Department of Education, and the teachers’ unions.
While these scores were sequestered to protect Democrats before the election, the political establishment can now release them to justify and demand more money in the bloated education budget. In his book RACE TO THE BOTTOM, Luke Rosiak shares the lies spouted about education funding by Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. All three claim that schools have been inadequately and inequitably funded over many decades. As Rosiak writes, “K-12 education spending has nearly doubled since 1980 and almost quadrupled since 1960. In 1950, America spent the modern equivalent of $2784 per child on education; in 2017, it was $15424. Yet history is not littered with one room schoolhouses where zero students could do math.” (Source- justfacts.com/education#k12_spend)
He’s referring to the fact that in recent testing, thirteen of Baltimore’s thirty-nine high schools did not have a single student who was proficient in math according to state testing. Six other high schools only had 1 percent test proficient.
Rather than question the focus and teaching in schools that produced these awful statistics, the scores will be the bottom line for increasing funding. The refrain by educators everywhere will be, “We could get kids to learn if we only had more money.”
They’ll talk about student readiness in kindergarten and how it negatively impacts the ability of children to learn. If you look at the State readiness scores, they might support this idea. However, if there is a correlation between readiness scores and scores in later grades, then why do some scores actually DROP as kids progress through the system? Why are 8th graders doing worse in math than 1st graders? Instead of addressing that question, educators will use the usual mantra promoting all-day kindergarten and pre-K and of course, more money. In the teaching ranks we used to call this “blaming it downward.” It means that you blame failure at your grade on the grades before.
Along comes the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future to solve the funding problem. Now, with lousy scores to back it up, the Blueprint will be touted as the only way to solve the achievement problem. Counties won’t have a choice about how much funding they give schools.
There will be consequences. With the passing of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future mandating local jurisdictions to increase school funding, many counties will be locked into drastically raising local tax rates to meet the needs of the mandate. For example, our county, Talbot, is projected to see an increase of 20% in the required local school appropriation in 2023. By 2028, the per pupil expenditure in Talbot will be mandated to increase by over $2000. This will translate to an increase in the total appropriation for the schools from 48.7 million in 2023 to 61.5 million in 2028 and 81.0 million in 2034. Needless to say, taxes on the citizens of the county will rise accordingly. Inflation has not been calculated as part of these numbers. The county will either have to bankrupt many of its citizens or defund other country expenditures such as law enforcement, etc.
The scores will be a large part of the rationale for the increase. Counties like Talbot who are in the middle of the scores ranking, are not like jurisdictions such as Baltimore City, Prince George’s and Dorchester Counties whose scores are in the bottom. One could possibly justify that those counties should increase their funding. The Blueprint will assure that counties like Talbot who may not need to increase education funding, will do so at a huge price, regardless of the needs and stated opinions of local taxpayers. One wonders if the state wants to punish Talbot for their tax cap.
Meanwhile the Teachers Unions which spend less than a dime of every dollar of their assets of over 400 million dollars on improving teacher working conditions, students and education, uses these test scores to demand higher teacher pay. The problem is that the facts don’t support the idea that higher teacher pay will increase student achievement. In fact, data shows that once teachers teach from year five onward, performance flatlines regardless of pay or higher degrees. In fact, many teachers with Master’s Degrees actually do a worse job than those without regardless of the financial incentive they were given to get an advanced degree. But, the union wants salaries to increase so their membership fees can increase. So, they use bad test scores to demand higher teacher pay. (You don’t get what you pay for: paying teachers more for master’s degrees (nctq.org))
If you think about it, that demand makes no sense. If teachers deserve higher pay, shouldn’t they be helping their students achieve? Does failure usually command a raise? As a matter of fact, are teachers the problem with the test scores? Maybe the educational bureaucracy should start looking at all the strategies that teachers have been forced to use instead of time proven pedagogy or the million dollar “programs” that make publishers rich but don’t help kids learn. (For a look inside this, listen to this podcast: Sold a Story | Podcast on Spotify )
As a former teacher, I think the demand that teachers receive higher pay to increase test scores is insulting. It implies that teachers will only work to help their students learn if they are paid more. Most teachers I know would gladly accept a pay raise, but they work hard for their students without it. They will tell you exactly what needs to happen for the scores to improve. In many cases, they would prefer to have better working conditions, instructional assistants and administrator support. But, no one in local, state or national administration wants to listen.
Clearly, the testing industry, the education bureaucracy, and the unions collude every year to keep the money pipeline going. Test scores are a tool for them, not for improving student learning, but for getting political advantage and thus more power and money. Don’t forget that the testing industry is one that brought in 24.9 billion dollars in 2022, and they did it without much oversight. (ibisworld.com)
Where do we go from here? With so much at stake, state testing isn’t going anywhere. And, like most data in the hands of politicians, it’s likely that test data will be manipulated to coerce money and votes.
Parents and taxpayers will have to stay engaged in the process. Go to meetings, ask questions, demand accountability. Follow the data from year to year and the correlation between that data and school budget demands. When you get your child’s scores, compare them to what you see from your child. Disregard the political spin of Unions and government officials. Don’t buy their interpretation of the data at face value. Remember that they have motives that don’t include the best interests of children.
Encourage your school board members to ask questions and analyze everything. Hold them accountable if they don’t!
Don’t limit your engagement to just the school board meetings, but also stay in contact with your county council especially during budget time. Local legislators will be under extreme duress to fund bloated education budgets even beyond the mandates. We need to support them when they have to say “no.”
These huge government testing programs and budgets are in place. But, citizens can be a speedbump in the way of their full funding and implementation.
Jan Greenhawk can be reached at radiofreeoxford.com